Lessons on Writing a Series
by Skylar M. Cates
About a year ago, I set a goal for myself. Well, I set a few goals: clean my house more, lose some weight, save more money, write a series. I’m proud to say that while my house remains a mess and the scale has not budged, my series is one goal that I have actually achieved.
The Guy from Glamour, book one, began to take shape in my mind when I pictured a very loving, if slightly meddling family. I wanted a main character that was all about his family. From that point, I knew that the other MC must be his opposite. He must be somebody who has no family and does not think he will ever have love—-Anthony and Dean were created.
It was at the halfway point in this novel when I began to wonder if it should become a series. Readers often write to me and ask about a sequel to my other novel Exposed, and while that might happen someday, part of the reason it has not happened is that I did not plan it. Honestly, I was so excited and nervous to publish the book that the idea of doing more never occurred to me.
Lesson One: Plan Ahead
As I wrote Anthony and Dean’s love affair, I realized I could do it. I loved these two guys and their world, and I could write a series around them. I was so excited! I wrote about a dozen pages of notes. But I needed to figure out if their story should continue into multiple books or if their friends would each get books of their own. I’m a fan of both types of series. For The Guy Series, however, I decided to have the secondary characters find love too. Anthony and Dean, and their clan, would and do continue into the other books—that way their story also continues—but the focus would be on Aaron Weiss and Henry Clueley. Possibly, if readers want it, I might give Mac (from The Only Guy) his story too.
One day, I might attempt the other type of series. For some reason, I feel as if the two MC’s need to be cops solving crimes, or supernatural beings, in order for an ongoing series about the two of them to continue. For now, I was happy to write the spinoffs.
As I worked on The Only Guy, it was helpful to keep The Guy from Glamour nearby. I had to be careful with every detail, such as the spelling of minor characters names, to major details involving Aaron’s back story as a Night Stalker.
Lesson Two: Check the facts
*Important note—whatever happens in book one, must be reflected in book two
As book two nears its release, I realize the pressure on a series is far greater than on a single book. The fact that many readers liked The Guy From Glamour was awesome and I am so grateful to them for letting me know, but it would be a lie to say it didn’t make finishing The Only Guy a little worrisome. I love Aaron and Jesse’s story so much, and I’m eager to see how readers like them, but it’s kind of like comparing my children. But they are bound together, for better or worse.
Lesson Three: A Promise is a Promise
My final lesson involves Henry’s story. As I submitted The Only Guy for consideration, I began the last story, The Last Guy Breathing. The characters came to me quickly, and their enemies to lovers trope was fun to write. However, I challenged myself with this one to add a few twists. It has a mystery element to it that was new for me. But that’s what keeps life interesting, isn’t it? Continued challenges. I wrote over 74,000 words and realized that the mystery part wasn’t as strong as I wanted. But what to do? Scrap 74k? Forget Henry’s story? I had set it up in The Only Guy, and I had promised a trilogy to DSP and my readers… So no—–that was not an option.
I rolled up my sleeves, called in my beta readers, and I revised the novel. It took me twice as long to finish as The Guy from Glamour or The Only Guy, but I have to say that I’m thrilled with results! (At the time of this post, Henry’s story was accepted by Dreamspinner and will be out in December 2014/January 2015 = Hooray!)
Will I ever do another series? I hope so! For now, I’m happy to see Anthony and Dean, Aaron and Jesse, and Henry and Locke go on their way.
Thanks for hosting me!
About The Only Guy
Aaron Weiss knows how to escape. Years ago, he ran from a romantic disappointment and impulsively joined the Army. Now, he’s forced to take a medical discharge and readjusting to life at home proves a challenge.
Jesse Ross knows how to hide. He realizes he’s an oddball, and that he’s an outsider within his own family. He also knows his secret love since childhood, Aaron, only wants his good-looking, favored older brother. Yet Jesse could never completely abandon his intense feelings for Aaron. Over the years, Jesse was a faithful pen pal to him. Still, he’s shocked to his core to find Aaron on his doorstep.
As long-buried secrets and past hurts take center stage, the two are overwhelmingly drawn to each other. But it’s their future that may force them to risk everything.
Available at: Dreamspinner Press, Amazon & Barnes and Noble
Excerpt from The Only Guy
One of my favorite things about The Only Guy was doing the childhood scenes. Here is an excerpt from that time. At this point in the story, Aaron has a crush on Gregory, Jesse’s older brother:
Aaron glanced at Gregory’s body one more time as he walked off in the direction of the cabin, noticing how Gregory’s tight shorts clung to his ass. If only Gregory would loosen up a little, forget all the rules for his future plans and just, well, see him. Aaron would be his for life.
“Come on,” Jesse said, pulling at Aaron’s arm. “Forget him.”
They walked down a path, crunching over the dirt and twigs, following the animal’s throaty cries of pain.
“I hope it’s all right.”
The sky was thick with clouds, but the heat permeated the air. His shirt stuck to his skin, his stomach rumbled, and Aaron half regretted coming along. He swiped his hand over his forehead as Jesse hurried to keep up with him. Although tall for his age, Jesse was all bony angles, and his stride was awkward. Aaron slowed his pace a little, allowing Jesse to match him.
“When we’re all grown up, do you think we’ll still be coming here?” Jesse stole a glance at him. “’Cause I think we will. We’ll spend every summer right here. We could come other times too. I bet it’s pretty in the winter with all the snow. But definitely in the summer, we’ll be here.”
Aaron’s mouth curved into a smile. “Maybe.”
Jesse nodded back seriously as if the matter had been settled.
The path narrowed, and they fell quiet as they maneuvered the trial. Soon they saw drops of fresh blood. Finally, near a patch of browned grass, Jesse halted and moved to point at something that lay eerily still. Aaron edged closer. The animal was all curled up into a ball, making it impossible to see it, but Aaron thought it might be an injured raccoon. There was a puddle of blood by its left hind leg.
“You could tie your bandana onto its leg?” Jesse suggested. “It isn’t moaning now. Maybe it’s passed out and would let you?”
“I don’t know….”
Jesse gave him a resolute stare. “You could try.”
Sometimes Jesse sounded just like an adult but with a kid’s scrawny body. It was unnerving.
After approaching it slowly, Aaron nudged it with his sneaker and it didn’t move. Now that he could see it up close—
“Holy crap! That’s a skunk! Let’s get the hell out of here. Now!”
About Skylar M. Cates
Skylar M. Cates loves a good romance. She is quite happy to drink some coffee, curl up with a good book, and not move all day. Most days, however, Skylar is chasing after her husband, her kids, and her giant dog, Wasabi. Skylar dreams about spending her days writing her novels, walking along the beach, and making more time for her good friends. On a shoestring budget, Skylar has traveled all over in her early years. Although, lately, the laundry room is the farthest place she has visited, Skylar still loves to chat with people from all around the globe.
You can reach Skylar by Email, Website, Facebook or Twitter
The Blogger Girls are trying something a little different this time. Instead of strictly commenting, we’re going to try using Rafflecopter as our giveaway source. This means, you can get more entries if you do all the options!
Anyway, the prize in this giveaway is reader’s choice on either The Guy from Glamour or The Only Guy in ebook! To enter, just click the link below!
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Don’t forget to check out JustJen’s reviews of The Only Guy & The Guy from Glamour to see what she thought of them!